BMW to develop 0 Series on Mini platform

October 9th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mini John Cooper Works fq

The 3 Series was once the smallest car in BMW’s range, but it’s put on some serious weight over the past few generations. So to meet demand for smaller vehicles, BMW has put a lot of work into creating smaller models to slot in below it. Reports now indicate that BMW is preparing a new 0 Series to bridge the gap between the 1 Series and the Mini.

According to recent reports, BMW will base the new 0 Series on the next Mini’s platform, which means it will break with company convention and go front-wheel-drive.

The new 0 Series is expected to arrive in three- and five-door hatchback body styles, and possibly be the base for a compact roadster as well. One reason for the 0 Series is to help the company bring down its environmental impact overall, while also offering premium buyers a smaller, more efficient package.

Mini Roadster concept revealed in Frankfurt

September 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mini Roadster concept fq

Mini has officially revealed the Roadster Concept alongside it’s new Coupe Concept (read news item) at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Like its hardtop stablemate the Roadster is strictly a two-seater with a chopped roofline and tilted back windscreen. This is almost certainly set to be the second new model that will be produced at MINI’s Oxford UK assembly plant alongside the Coupe.

Also like the Coupe, the Roadster makes extensive use of Mini family design cues and appears pretty much unchanged from the belt-line down compared to existing Minis. For the Roadster, the roll-bar structure has been moved forward so it sits directly behind the seats. This should improve the coupe’s structural rigidity, helping make the Roadster a more competent handler.

The front air dam of the Mini Roadster Concept looks seriously performance ready. And it should be, considering that Mini’s 175 horsepower turbocharged 1.6-litre engine will be even more willing to please in the smaller Roadster. Weight distribution has been improved, shuffling a bit more weight over the rear axle for more neutral behaviour. The slightly shorter layout and lower weight also helps handling, while power-to-weight ratio is improved, too.

Another functional advantage of the Roadster is increased boot space thanks to the missing back seat. The volume increases and the opening is now usably large, extending over the rear deck and down to the bumper. A lockable pass-through gap also allows a passenger to reach items banging round in the boot.

Aesthetically, the concept’s houndstooth-and-leather seating and gold striping show the concept won’t be all about performance.

A new multi-function screen display offers five new gimmicky indicators: the Nature Guard (how eco friendly you’re driving), Highspeed Shifter (when to shift for maximum power), Gravity Indicator (lateral and g-forces), Heart Beat (engine speed visualized by beating heart) and Buddy Radar (shows where other Mini drivers are).

It’s cute, it will go reasonably hard and there is no reason why the new Roadster won’t be a sales success when it reaches production.

Mini Coupe set to go into production

September 7th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mini Coupe concept fq

Mini has just announced that the Mini Coupe and another Mini model to be premiered at the Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production at the company’s Oxford plant. The currently unknown Mini is believed to be a new Mini roadster, but will be unveiled in the next couple of weeks.

The recently revealed Mini Coupe was designed to be the most agile model of the brand and is powered by the 1.6-litre turbocharged MINI John Cooper Works power train. It is strictly a two-seater with a low roof line and perfect axle load distribution.

UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: “The production of the two new MINI models is very good news for Oxford, and for the UK car industry. It is a demonstration of BMW’s long term commitment to the UK as it celebrates its 50th birthday this year. “British drivers have had a long love affair with the MINI and I’m sure that this will continue for many years to come.”

Check back for more details on the new Mini Coupe and possible Mini Roadster when they are unveiled in Frankfurt.

BMW to launch electric sub-brand

September 6th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

BMW released an official strategy report back in September of 2007 which set up speculation BMW was looking at either launching its own new brand or acquiring one to assist in expansion. BMW is already sorted in the luxury and ultra-luxury segments with its BMW and Rolls-Royce brands plus it has the Mini small car brand, but recent speculation has suggested that the automaker may launch or even revive a fourth brand for its upcoming family of Project i cars.

Now, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer has put an end to claims of a new brand and reconfirmed earlier statements that no existing brand is suitable to partner BMW at present. At one point it was thought BMW was looking to buy Volvo or possibly even the Triumph brand.

Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, Reithofer said the first Project i car will feature a fully electric drivetrain and will be produced under a “BMW sub-brand” much like BMW’s M badge.

Reithofer also revealed that the electric vehicle will be launched “in the first half of the next decade,” but was no more specific. Earlier this week BMW confirmed that it would be teaming up with SB LiMotive, a joint-venture company between Bosch and Samsung SDI, to supply of lithium-ion batteries required for the new vehicles.

Mini Crossover debut delayed until 2010

September 2nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mini unveiled its new crossover concept at last year’s Paris Auto Show to a mixed reception but within just four weeks after its debut the vehicle was given the green light for production. Various prototypes have since been seen testing in Europe but apparently development has now been delayed.

The vehicle was originally scheduled for debut at this month’s Frankfurt Auto Show but according to a new report BMW has delayed its unveiling until next year.

A Mini spokesman told media in the U.S.: “The crossover launch has been pushed back as we wish to first explore differentiation within future Mini smaller models and get feedback.”

Now, Mini plans to use the upcoming Frankfurt event to display new Coupe and Roadster concepts, both of which may enter production.

As for the crossover, it will be a true 4×4 and will be able to seat four-passengers. It will stretch four meters in length but is still touted to retain Mini’s ‘go-kart drive quality’.

The first versions will be available in front-wheel-drive only, with a BMW Xdrive-derived al-wheel-drive model set to go on sale some time after the initial launch.

Mini Crossover debut delayed until 2010

September 2nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mini unveiled its new crossover concept at last year’s Paris Auto Show to a mixed reception but within just four weeks after its debut the vehicle was given the green light for production. Various prototypes have since been seen testing in Europe but apparently development has now been delayed.

The vehicle was originally scheduled for debut at this month’s Frankfurt Auto Show but according to a new report BMW has delayed its unveiling until next year.

A Mini spokesman told media in the U.S.: “The crossover launch has been pushed back as we wish to first explore differentiation within future Mini smaller models and get feedback.”

Now, Mini plans to use the upcoming Frankfurt event to display new Coupe and Roadster concepts, both of which may enter production.

As for the crossover, it will be a true 4×4 and will be able to seat four-passengers. It will stretch four meters in length but is still touted to retain Mini’s ‘go-kart drive quality’.

The first versions will be available in front-wheel-drive only, with a BMW Xdrive-derived al-wheel-drive model set to go on sale some time after the initial launch.

Mini unveiled its new crossover concept at last year’s Paris Auto Show to a mixed reception but within just four weeks after its debut the vehicle was given the green light for production. Various prototypes have since been seen testing in Europe but apparently development has now been delayed.

The vehicle was originally scheduled for debut at this month’s Frankfurt Auto Show but according to a new report BMW has delayed its unveiling until next year.

A Mini spokesman told media in the U.S.: “The crossover launch has been pushed back as we wish to first explore differentiation within future Mini smaller models and get feedback.”

Now, Mini plans to use the upcoming Frankfurt event to display new Coupe and Roadster concepts, both of which may enter production.

As for the crossover, it will be a true 4×4 and will be able to seat four-passengers. It will stretch four meters in length but is still touted to retain Mini’s ‘go-kart drive quality’.

The first versions will be available in front-wheel-drive only, with a BMW Xdrive-derived al-wheel-drive model set to go on sale some time after the initial launch.

Mini celebrates 50th Anniversary with Coupe concept

August 28th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mini Coupe concept fq

Rumors have been circulating for months about what BMW would do on August 26, 2009 for its Mini brand. That recent date marked the fiftieth anniversary of the public debut of Alec Issigonis’ original Mini. Most of the speculation involved either a coupe or some kind of cropped windshield speedster, it turns out the reality was somewhere in between. Where the original Mini coupe of the Sixties simply had a fastback replacement for the standard square-back roof, the new Mini Coupe Concept is far more extensive in it’s styling changes. The windscreen has been raked back and a low aluminium roof covers the two seats.

The Mini Coupe Concept is based on the regular Cooper Hatchback. Strictly a two-seater, the low roof line, compact dimensions, perfect axle load distribution and lightweight construction are all trademarks of a genuine sports car. Other unique elements include a body coloured grille and matching inserts on the wheels and rear bumper.

In the cabin, well bolstered sports seats feature, as does a three-spoke leather sports steering wheel with multi-function controls. Two Chronoswiss clocks to the right and left of the rev counter provide a stopwatch and a standard clock.

With a Crossover model reaching the final stages of development and Hatch, Clubman and Convertible models currently on the roads in nearly 80 countries worldwide, Mini’s plan is to offer an extended range of compact premium cars in the coming years. Hinting that the latest Coupe Concept may eventually enter production, Mini states that it offers a “vision” into how the company’s line up may continue to grow.

The MINI Coupe Concept will be shown publicly at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month alongside the production version of the new Crossover.

Mini may compete in the WRC with new crossover

August 20th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The original Mini Cooper earned its performance credentials back in the 1960s by performing impressively at the Monte Carlo rally. Paddy Hopkirk took the Monte Rally honours in 1964 at the wheel of a Cooper S.

The new BMW made Minis are without doubt fun cars to drive but they have never been used in a major factory-backed motorsports program. That may be about to change, according to recent reports Mini’s new crossover could form the basis of a World Rally Championship program in 2011. The all-wheel drive crossover first appeared as a concept vehicle at the Paris Motor Show last year and is expected to debut in production form next month in Frankfurt.

The new model is predicted to carry the “Countryman” nameplate and is naturally expected to get a high performance John Cooper Works edition sometime next year which could form the base of a WRC rally car. The recent cancellation of BMW’s Formula 1 program could help make room in the budget for a serious rallying effort